diabetes pill

Novo Nordisk is entering a critical first quarter of 2018 with its ‘insulin pill’.

European drugmaker and the world’s biggest insulin maker, Novo Nordisk, wants to prove it can transform the diabetes market with a pill.

The once-daily pill is first of its kind and belongs to a blockbuster class of treatments known as GLP-1s that stimulate insulin production.

The GLP-1 analogue mimics a hormone secreted in the intestine and has shown a number of benefits for blood sugar, weight and the cardiovascular system. So far, all GLP-1 treatments have been injections.

GLP-1 has been embraced as a highly effective diabetes therapy for those at a less serious diabetic stage, since 2005. Semaglutide, which was approved as a once-weekly injection in December, has out-gunned rivals in efficacy, however, the needle is still a barrier. 

“Once an oral is available I think there will be significant interest in it,” Dr. Jason Gaglia, a diabetes expert at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, told Reuters. 

Eli Lilly, one of the company’s biggest rivals have been watching Novo’s final stage trials closely, ahead of the drug’s potential launch in 2020. 

The oral medicine market in diabetes has a value of $28 billion, which means that the results from these clinical trials could open the doors for a new market worth up to $16 billion for Novo. 

“A tablet option is something that would be preferable for patients, and one could get a higher price for that,” CEO of Novo Nordisk, Lars Fruefaard Jørgensen told Danish newspaper, Børsen.